Summer Travel: White Nights Festival

Last summer, while traveling, I was able to be part of something very special.  Not to be confused with Nights in White Satin, The White Nights Festival is one of the best times to visit St Petersburg, Russia. The festival takes place during the season of the midnight sun, and is an art extravaganza sure to please even the most demanding art lover.

Summer Palace gardens ready for White Nights.

Celebrating the summer season, when the sun is out till the evening, White Nights brings together the best of Russian and international ballet, opera, and classical music.  Performances take place in the famous Mariinski Theater every night at seven.  The event culminates with the Scarlet Sails, or Alye Parusa festivities, marking the end of the Russian school-year with an awesome display of fireworks.

Last summer, when I was doing research abroad for one of my collections, I was able to meet my family in Russia for White Nights.  Even though it was for a few short days, we were able to pack a lot in, and see everything St Petersburg has to offer.

With my family outside the Czar's tomb. Very intense!

Gorgeous details, inside the Czars' tomb. Simply breathtaking.

I was particularly impressed with the grandeur that Russia does things.  Aside from all the palaces that we visited, every infrastructure, like the Metro for example, was richly decorated to the last detail.  They had huge, modern highways, and a very vibrant cityscape.

A view of the gardens at Peterhof.
I have to say that my favorite activity during my trip was visiting the Faberge collection at the Hermitage and Kremlin museums.  Faberge eggs have been long considered masterpieces of the jeweler's art, and therefore of incredible interest to me. The jeweled and decorated eggs were made by the House of Faberge between 1885 and 1917, with its most famous eggs being commissioned by the Russian Royals.

At the Hermitage museum, one of my top ten museums for sure!
Entering the Kremlin Museum; last picture I took there since cameras
are strictly prohibited.
The story begins when Tsar Alexander III gives his wife, the Empress Maria Federovna, a Faberge egg as an Easter present, and anniversary present.  He had appointed Peter Carl Faberge, a young jeweler, whose work had recently interested his wife.  On Easter morning he delivered what looked like a simple egg painted in white enamel.  Upon closer inspection, the Empress became delighted to find what was inside:   a diamond miniature of the royal crown and a tiny ruby egg, all within a beautifully crafted golden hen.  Simply fascinating!

Unfortunately this egg did not survive, but it did begin a tradition for the Romanovs.  After this the Czar commissioned eggs for Easter every year, Mr Faberge brought to life many aspects of royal life in his creations.  Year by year, the eggs reached new heights in inventiveness and creativity.

Jewel encrusted Faberge egg, my favorite of course!

During the time of political unrest, the eggs were pillaged and sold.  The biggest collection of eggs belonged to millionaire Malcom Forbes, but when Forbes died, the eggs "returned" to Russia.  They were bought by Viktor Valkersberg (he paid over $90 million for the collection) and are now part of a travelling exhibition.  Lucky for me I was I was able to view the marvelous pieces while I was in St Petersburg.   Talk about divine inspiration!

Dani K

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